Highlands & Islands

Community anger at Armadale to Mallaig ferry disruption

MV Coruisk at Armadale Image copyright MJ Richardson
Image caption The MV Coruisk had been used on the Mallaig Skye crossing

Businesses and the community in Sleat in Skye have described the ferry service linking their area with the mainland as "unreliable" and "poor".

The ferry MV Coruisk, which operated between Armadale and Mallaig, has been redeployed to the Oban-Mull route.

Islanders have complained that the two smaller replacement ferries have been prone to disruption.

Operator CalMac said it appreciated changes could affect communities and it was monitoring the situation.

Sleat Transport Forum has been campaigning against the redeployment of the MV Coruisk since the move was announced in September last year.

It said the two smaller ferries had to use fixed slipways and not linkspans, as the MV Coruisk had, and as a result have been unable to operate on numerous occasions because of low tides.

CalMac has said it would use the larger MV Lord of the Isles, when was available to do so, but the forum said this arrangement of three ferries had led to the kind of disruption "not seen for many years".

Extreme tides

A forum spokesman said people in Sleat were "increasingly concerned at the unreliable and poor quality service now being provided".

It has warned of further disruption to sailings because of tidal conditions later in the year.

The forum will raise the matter with CalMac representatives at a meeting scheduled on Wednesday.

CalMac said extreme spring tides had caused "excessive low or high tides" leading to the cancellation of sailings.

Director of operations, Drew Collier, said: "CalMac appreciate that any changes to service can affect the communities we serve, and we are monitoring this particular service closely."

He added: "In the first two weeks of the summer season we have seen a 42% increase in passengers on the Mallaig-Armadale route on this same two-week period in 2015 and a 53% increase in vehicles.

"This new timetable is carrying more people and more vehicles to Skye on this route than ever before."

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